In one day, yesterday, I learned of the passing of two people whom I had met during the past winter in January, when I went to Princess Margaret Lodge for six weeks, as I undertook six weeks (30 treatments) of radiation therapy at Princess Margaret Hospital. I learned straight away how important it was to connect with people there, who like me, were from outside the city, who were there with the common reality of undergoing intervention, cancer treatments, from chemotherapy to radiation and various surgeries.
The Princess Margaret Lodge became our home away from home, and in the safety of the lodge, we found each other, and shared meals, conversations, and friendships were established that continue to this day. Yesterday was a difficult day, the impact of the news which was reported by my friend Camille Parent whom I met at the lodge, posted on his Facebook page, the passing of Mary Dunne.
Mary Dunne, from Newmarket, was one of the first people who reached out to me when I arrived at the Lodge in late January. Life is indeed fragile and the loss of a sense of permanence and control is a shock to both our minds and our way of living in this world. Suffering, sickness and death are those moments of encounter, where we are stripped to the only things that truly matter. There is an instant bonding and connection point when we identify with and come alongside those who suffer. When I got to the Lodge, Mary was one of the first people I met. I realized at that time just how much you can cut through the traditional life barriers and protections and controls we put in place when we connect with others. The pretending of being fine is gone and stripped away.
Each one of us has a common story we are living out, and we are able to cut through the BS of surface relating, and meaningfully connect more quickly when we embrace the moment we are in. I did not have to pretend then, and I don’t have to pretend now. I can embrace where I am and where you are and build a common bond and connection that is authentic and real, which has substance to the very core of who we are as human beings. We can use our suffering as a bridge to relationship with people. Mary did that for me, as you have all done with me,Camille Parent and Bina Shaw. We share a bond that few others share, and we don’t have to pretend. We can truly be authentic and real and show love and compassion to others. Mary walked that out for me when I got to the Lodge.
For those people who have battled and continue to battle cancer, and to those who have gone on and crossed the Jordan to the other side, and to the family members who are left to carry on, here is a prayer for you. Today I am thinking of Mary, a woman I met at Princess Margaret Lodge last winter as we were going through radiation treatments. Mary passed away. Today I am saddened. Today I grieve for those who have lost so much. Today I stand with you and grieve with you and your loved ones.
Rest in Peace Mary Dunne. My life has been enriched through our shared journey of cancer, uncertainty, hope and shared humanity. You are fondly remembered today. You will never be forgotten. One day, I shall see you again on the other side. Rest in Jesus. Enter your rest, and may your joy be made full. Thank you for touching my life.
~ Samuel M. Buick